Finland’s PPE guidance for healthcare workers (HCW) has been updated following the Kanta-Häme hospital Delta variant outbreak. “The use of FFP2/3 respirators in all patient contacts with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients is recommended.”
“Generally, HCWs have a higher risk of contracting a COVID-19 infection compared to the general population. Despite the high exposure to SARS-CoV-2, none of the ICU workers got a clear occupational COVID-19 infection, whereas working in a cohort COVID-19 ward or a normal ward with COVID-19 patients seems to have a high-risk association for occupational COVID-19 infections.
All ICU workers and most laboratory workers used FFP2/3 respirators and aerosol precautions when working with COVID-19 patients, whereas the PPE used in the wards followed droplet precautions with surgical masks. Notably, 29.3% of the infections were from colleagues, thus also requiring special attention for social distances and infection control measures between co-workers.
As practical implications, the use of FFP2/3 respirators in all patient contacts with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients is recommended.
Also, as a high number of COVID-19 infections and exposures among HCWs are from colleagues, the authors recommend the use of universal masking during the shift, also in personnel rooms. Safety distances and other means of infection control in the hospital environment need more research and implementation in the workplace to ensure HCWs’ safety during pandemics.
Finland research paper: Sources of Healthcare worker’s Covid-19 infections and related safety guidlines
In Kanta-Häme hospital epidemic, about 80% of those infected with corona have received at least the first dose of vaccine. The [Delta] variant of the coronavirus has been revealed to be the cause of the hospital epidemic. “The [B.1.617.2 Delta variant] is very easily spread.” says Chief Physician of the Kanta-Häme Hospital District Sally Leskinen. According to Leskinen, it is worrying that the precautions that have stopped the spread of previous virus variants in hospitals have not been effective enough now. “The fact that the surgical mask has been used in all situations and that patients with symptoms of infection have extensive protective equipment is not enough now,” says Leskinen.
The coronavirus epidemic has spread from Hämeenlinna to Kanta-Häme Central Hospital to health center hospitals in Hämeenlinna, Riihimäki and Forssa. There are a total of 80 infected in the chains. Hämeenlinna Central Hospital has two infection chains with a total of more than 50 infections. In addition, Riihimäki Hospital has a chain of 30 infections.
“The virus is easily infected. In those wards where infections occurred before the first cases occurred and the chains of infection were curtailed, 40 percent of patients have become infected,” says Sally Leskinen. Now the spread has been stopped and no new surprising infections have been detected in hospitals. Family members of nursing staff have also become infected, which in turn has caused extensive exposure situations in schools.
The majority of nursing staff have already received two coronary vaccinations, but still in Kanta-Häme, 11 per cent of the staff of the hospital epidemic outpatient department have been infected. About half of the infected nursing staff have had symptoms, some of them more severe.
HS.fi report (in Finnish)
Helsinki Times report (In English)
** UPDATE 3rd August 2021 ** Eurosurveillance report:
“Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 occurred in almost every unit of the central hospital. Some exposed patients had been transferred to four of the six primary care facilities. In three of these four facilities, the outbreak spread through transfers that took place before the outbreak was detected. In the fourth facility, the transfer happened after outbreak detection and the exposed patient was quarantined and there was no further spread.”